Private Ormond Bobo and the 7th Infantry at Vancouver Barracks

Colorized black and white photo of man in green US Army dress uniform with hat.
This photograph of Ormond Bobo in uniform during his service with the 7th Infantry at Vancouver Barracks was donated to the Fort Vancouver National Historic Site museum collection in 2018.

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In the spring of 2018, a collection of photographs and documents relating to the military service of Private Ormond Bobo was donated to the museum collection of Fort Vancouver National Historic Site by his daughter, Carolyn. This national park encompasses sections of the historic Vancouver Barracks, established in 1849, and tells the story of the military heritage of the area. This collection, like so many others in the Fort Vancouver National Historic Site collection, helps us better understand the experiences of the countless soldiers who passed through this post.

Ormond Bobo was born on August 5, 1913, in Fayette County, Alabama. Growing up in a rural environment, Bobo and his siblings lived and worked on their family's farm. In 1936, at the age of 22, he enlisted in the U.S. Army and was assigned as a private to the 7th Infantry Regiment, Company K.

Bobo was initially stationed at Vancouver Barracks. The collection contains a letter he wrote to his brother in Alabama, dated May 23, 1936, describing Bobo's first impressions of the area and the difference in climate from the Southeastern United States:

"I am 8 miles north of Portland Oregon, north of the Columbia river and am about 6 blocks from the main street of the town of Vancouver. It is a town of about 10,000 population I think I will like this country just fine it seems healthy and I can really sleep cool at night. I sleep under 2 blankets ha."

In the same letter, Bobo marvels over the train journey he had taken to get to the West Coast, and writes of seeing year-round snow on Mount Shasta: "I had read about it snowing the year around but I didn't think I would ever see it." Referring to the three-year enlistment period he had signed up for, Bobo went on to write, "I might get plenty sick of the Army in 3 years but I don't think I will. Anyway I think the trip is worth 3 years."
Black and white photo of a group of soldiers sitting and standing in front of a building with a sign reading "Post Headquarters."
This close up of a panoramic photograph in the Ormond Bobo collection shows soldiers and officers of the 7th Infantry posing in front of the vancouver Barracks Post Headquarters building.

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Photo of two certificates.
Ormond Bobo earned these certificates of proficiency in baking and cooking from the United States Army Quartermaster Corps' School for Bakers and Cooks.

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Black and white photo of a man wearing a white bakers smock.
Private Ormond Bobo poses in his cook's apron, ca. 1937-38.

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In 1937 and 1938, Bobo left Vancouver Barracks to attend the United States Army Quartermaster Corps School for Bakers and Cooks at the Presidio in San Francisco. Bobo successfully passed the courses and examinations.

In December 1938, Bobo wrote a letter to Mary Allene Doyle describing his thoughts on the Vancouver area:

"Yes I have been in Washington quite awhile. I like here o.k. but not as well as California. Lots of beautiful scenery here I think... Vancouver is about size of Corsicana [Texas], and Portland Oregon is only nine miles from here. It's about the size of Dallas I guess."

Soldiers and officers stationed at Vancouver Barracks were often far from their homes, families, and friends. In his 1938 letter to Mary Doyle, Ormond Bobo asks her about her life, and reassures her that he is still single:

"Well Mary what are you doing these days? Still keeping store? Have you had any more Halloween partys? I think of the one that we went to...pretty often. I was plenty bashful then wasn't I? Ha. No Mary I am not married. Been waiting on someone to ask me but looks as if I will have to use some other method. Ha."

Bobo had met Mary in north Texas around 1936, while he was visiting a cousin in the area, and the two began a correspondence. They were married on November 11, 1943.
Photo of envelope addressed to Miss Mary Doyle, Frost, Texas, alongside a handwritten letter.
Ormond Bobo sent this letter from Vancouver to Mary Doyle in Frost, Texas, in 1938.

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Black and white photo of a man in a suit.
Ormond Bobo in the late 1930s.

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In February 1939, when Bobo's three year enlistment period was over, he returned to the Southeast until June 1939, when he reenlisted at Fort McClellan, Alabama, for another three year period.

After his reenlistment, Bobo was stationed at Schofield Barracks in Hawai'i, and was present for the December 7, 1941, attack on Pearl Harbor. After the subsequent entry of the United States into World War II, Bobo served two tours of duty in the Pacific Theater of the war as a dining hall mess sergeant. He also served stateside at military bases in Texas, Kansas, and Georgia. In 1945, Bobo was stationed on the island of Tinian when the Enola Gay arrived on its way to Japan.

After the war, Bobo transitioned into a carreer with the U.S. Air Force, and retired in Austin, Texas, in 1959 as a chief warrant officer. In his retirement, Bobo managed the base exchange at Bergstrom Air Force Base for nearly 15 years. Ormond Bobo died in 1979 at the age of 66.
Photo of discharge document.
This honorable discharge was issued to Ormond Bobo at Vancouver Barracks on February 19, 1939.

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Last updated: May 11, 2018